|6| THE REAPER’S COLD BREATH|:|
Kyle opened his tightly closed eyes when he heard a thud behind him. His surprised eyes found Kate standing a few feet away with her smoking gun still held out in front of her. He exhaled even though he was quite confused at what happened. He thought for certain that he would be dead.
She lowered the weapon with a serious look on her pretty face. She made her way to him, kicked the gun from the man laying in a growing pool of blood, stooped to check the man’s pulse, while her eyes darted around the hallway. She then hurried him back to their room.
“Stay down on this side of the bed.” She instructed. He obeyed without question. She was on her phone, but the conversation was blurred to him. He hadn’t quite processed the situation. He was still hung up on the gun pressed to the back of his head.
She threw clothes at him that he put on. He was shaking. Terrified perhaps, but the adrenaline that was rushing through him kept him moving. He was jittery and frantic like the night he scooped up his children and fled the place that was supposed to be safe.
He’d felt it. The cold hard metal pressed against his head, he heard the man cock the gun back. The shot rang through his head over and over again. That was his time, that was his death. He could feel the chill of the Grim Reaper's touch coaxing his life from his body. How could he still be here? It didn’t make any sense. He wondered if maybe there was peace there in that place beyond right and wrong, and man’s greed. Maybe he was dead and his death created a scenario where he didn’t die.
He regained his mind to find familiar green eyes boring into him.
“We have to move, now. Backup is on the way, but we need to get out of here first. Are you ready? There might be more of them out there.” She made an effort to maintain his eye contact.
She was speaking a language that he understood, but he still was struggling to wrap his mind around what she was saying. She rested her head on his for a moment, clasped the nape of his neck and that move seemed to pull him from his daze.
“I know this is a lot, but we don’t have time. We have to go now.” Her voice was gentle, soothing.
“N-no. I-I’m I can’t. I’m not doing this. I-I just can’t. My children.” Dread filled him as the man’s words seeping under his skin.
“They’re safe.” She held his face between her hands.
“H-how do you know that? How do I know that? H-how could i j-just let them go? How could I just abandon them?” His wild eyes met hers after she allowed a pause.
“Jade and I have a system. They are fine. We would know if they weren’t.”
“Did you talk to them? Did you call them?”
“I don’t need to. Listen, we can discuss this later. We don’t have time we have to move NOW.”
She rigged her bullet proof vest to cover him despite his protests and they got to her car without incident.
The ride was silent as a graveyard. The sun was rising and with it his court time in court. The longer in sat in the car the longer he had to think and the more the entire thing started making no sense to him.
He took a deep breath and brought his focus to a serious looking Kate sitting next to him. Her brows were pulled together in deep thought or anger he couldn’t tell which. She was focused and it was very attractive. “Kate, I appreciate everything you’ve done for me, for my family, but I can’t anymore. It’s not about righting a wrong anymore. It’s about my children. I won’t put their lives in danger any more.”
“We’re almost there. Just a few short hours--”
“NO! I-I’m not going. I’m not testifying.”
“Kyle!” She shouted, then took in a steady breath and released it. When she spoke up again her voice was calm. “You have to. You’ve been through too much to not.”
“It’s not worth their lives, it’s not worth mine.” He crossed his arms and looked out the window. “You can’t make me do it.”
“You’re right. And I wouldn’t want to. This is your decision. I will support whatever decision you make, but think about this. The next family might not be so lucky. The next family that they tear apart might not escape, might not get help. If you don’t testify this monster gets off Scotch free without even a slap on the wrist.” She allowed a long pause. “Just think about it.”
For some reason anger rolled through him. “Think about it? THINK ABOUT IT!? It’s all I’ve been thinking about for the past three years. I can’t stop thinking about it! How could I? Every time I close my eyes I’m thinking about it. Everytime I open them, I see it, the fear in my children's eyes, in my own. I’m afraid all the damn time.”
“Then change it.”
He looked over to her and she glanced from the road to him. “What?”
“Change what you see in their eyes, in your own. Turn that fear into strength.”
He exhaled and shook his head. “You don’t understand.”
“Fear? Are you fucking kidding me? I was in the hornet’s nest. I didn’t know most of the time who wanted to put a bullet in my head. I was afraid, all the time. I noticed it at first, but after a while that fear was fuel. The fear was the fierceness. I needed to put on that gear and save families, save innocent people from a war they wanted no part. I was scared every fucking day for my life, the life of the people I grew to call friends, but that didn’t stop me and it won’t top you.”
She pulled the car into the courthouse parking lot.
Right when they did large trucks with dark tinted windows rolled up next to them.
Fear caught in his throat, but a smile pulled up the corner of her lips. “Don’t worry, they’re with us.”
“We can t-trust them?” He stammered.
She found his frantic eyes. “No one can buy these men and women with anything but loyalty and blood.”
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****This is an unedited draft which means there will be mistakes in grammar, punctuation, spelling, word usage ETC. I post these drafts for feed back and to gauge interest in the story line and characters. ****Ye've been warned!****
Copyright © 2020 by Alexandria Ashcroft
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